‘You shall have no other gods before me.’ Exodus 20:3 (ESV)
Who or what is an idol? And why is it commanded by Jehovah God that we should not have one? Wait a minute, per His very own words, we are warned not to have any ‘gods’ before Him. In other words, God, and only God, is to be our idol.
Merriam-Webster defines an idol as this:
: a greatly loved or admired person
: a picture or object that is worshipped as a god
Anything can become an idol. An idol is any person, object, or thing to which we attribute great worth, admiration, and even love. A person may become impassioned by a person or a thing, and because of this, obsession grows to the degree that all other important things to that person pale in comparison to the object of their affection.
There is nothing wrong, or even sinful, in admiring a person. We might admire their beauty, or their character, or talents they may have. But simple admiration is not the same as worshipping an idol. It is even healthy for us, when we consider we may like to be more like that person in some way. When we move beyond that to obsession, then we have crossed over into forbidden territory.
We may also make objects, or things, into idols. For instance, I admire Mazda Miata convertibles. I have for many years, and last summer my husband blessed me with one. While I say I ‘love’ my Miata, it is not with the same meaning as loving my LORD. My Miata does not take the place of my God, or of any living being. It is simply a fun thing I enjoy having, and am happy to own. But it is not an idol.
We can easily allow time to become an idol. In this way, we spend our moments of life doing things other than what we should be doing, such as playing with our smartphones, or watching TV, rather than doing our quiet time, and spending time with our Creator. I know some women who have the idol known as ‘shopping’, who cannot keep their credit card in their wallet. They must attain that perfect outfit, and find comfort in a closet full of clothes. Men, and even some women, may find their idol in sports, or in other outdoor activities. Many more find their idol in wealth, or the lack of it. Money becomes the most important thing to them, and they ignore not only God, but everyone else as well, chasing the dream of becoming rich.
‘You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.’ Exodus 20: 4-6 (ESV)
When we realize we have an idol that comes before God, what should we do? We must confess it to God. Then we must take the steps to rid ourselves of whatever that idol is. We must be intentional, purposed, and find our strength where it truly lies, in our God. We need to move back to Him, see Him once again as our First Love, and with His forgiveness and grace, retrace our path to Him. He will give us hope, because He is Our Hope. And if we are to have an idol, then truly it should only be Him, and Him alone. He is worthy of idolatry, of worship, of praise.
Do you have an idol, and if so, why do you think it has become one, and how will you turn it around so that your only idol is your Lord?